:1-4† Looking for signs
:1† Pharisees ... Sadducees
This is the first time in Matthew that we see these two parties together.
Traditionally, these were the opposites in the Jewish religion.
The Pharisees were the conservatives, believing in the inspiration of the Law, word for word, obeying every letter of the Law, and believing in things like miracles and angels.
The Sadducees were the liberals.† They didn't believe in things like miracles.† They weren't so legalistic about obeying the Law, they tended to be the ones in the leadership.
But since they both hate Jesus, they're working together.
:1† and tempting desired him
They tested him by asking of him ...
Sometimes the word translated here as "tempt" (peirazo) means to tempt to evil, but it also means (as it does here), to test someone to see how they're going to react.
lit, "to be sad or sorrowful", here the idea that the clouds were sad or "threatening"
:3† ye can discern the face of the sky
Note that Jesus said that both skies were red, but one in the evening, one in the morning.
But the people could tell how one thing meant this and the other something else.
Red sky at sunset meant calm weather ahead.
Red sky and clouds in morning means rain.
:3† can ye not discern the signs of the times?
These Pharisees and Sadducees could tell the weather, but they were ignorant of the very obvious things that Jesus was doing.
Remember that Jesus had encouraged John while in prison by reminding Him that certain prophecies in Isaiah were being fulfilled (Matt.11)
Here are these religious leaders who want more than Jesus has already given them.
:4† a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign
Jesus has already said this once:
Matthew 12:39-AV But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Don't be looking for signs.
Some people say they won't believe unless they have a sign, but that's probably not really true.
We saw Jesus rebuke several cities in Matthew 11 for not repenting, and He did all kind of signs and wonders in their midst.
:5-12† Pharisee and Sadducee Leaven
:7† they reasoned among themselves ...
The disciples are having a hard time figuring out what Jesus is trying to say.
Rather than asking Him, they try to figure it out by themselves, and incorrectly at that.
They're thinking to themselves,† "Gee, what did He mean by leaven?"† "Is He talking about bread because we're out of bread and have to go get some?"
:9† Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves ...
Jesus is bringing up the fact that they apparently have short memories.
:12† but of the doctrine of the Pharisees ...
What Jesus meant by "leaven" was "doctrine".
He was warning them to be careful about the things that the Pharisees and Sadducees were teaching.
A note about symbolism:
We are often taught that symbols in the Bible are consistent, that once something is representative of something else, that it will always be that thing.
What I'm going to say isn't meant to throw out any over all idea of consistency in interpretation, but we should be reasonable too.
Jesus gives us an interpretation of "leaven" that is different from what we usually see leaven as.
We usually see leaven as "sin".
1Corinthians 5:7-AV Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Another example of one thing having two different interpretations:
1Peter 5:8-AV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Revelation 5:5-AV And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
How does Jesus' interpretation affect our understanding of the parables?
Matthew 13:33-AV Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
If we took leaven to be sin, then the parable is talking about how sin can infect the whole church.
But if leaven is simple "doctrine", neither good nor evil, then maybe the idea could be that once the teaching of the gospel gets out, it can spread throughout everywhere.
:13-20† Peter's confession
:13† Caesarea Philippi
It's about 20 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.
This city was located near the base of Mt. Hermon, at a source of the Jordan, and in the northeast extremity of Palestine. It was called Caesarea Philippi by Herod Philip, who rebuilt it in honour of Tiberius Caesar, and added Philippi after his own name, to distinguish it from Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast.
:14† John the Baptist
As we saw last week in chapter 14, John had been killed by Herod.
Herod himself thought that maybe Jesus was John come back from the dead.
Elijah was that great prophet in the Old Testament.
He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest.† When Elijah prayed, fire came from heaven and consumed his sacrifice. (1Ki.18)
Elijah was supposed to come back before the great "Day of the Lord" (Mal.4:5)
Apparently there was a teaching going around among the Jews that some thought that Jeremiah would come back from the dead before the Day of the Lord.
:15† But whom say ye that I am
What do you say of Jesus?
It's not even what you "think" of Jesus, but what you "say" of Him.
God wants more than just a silent committment from us, He wants us talking about Jesus.
He's not really interested in what I think others think about Him.
He wants to know what I think about Jesus.
That's what really counts in life, what each of us think.
God doesn't have any grandkids - you won't get to heaven because your mom thought Jesus was the Son of God.
†John 1:12-AV But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:
Each of us needs to come to the place where we personally have received Jesus into our heart as our Lord and Savior.
:18† thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church
The Catholic church interprets this verse to mean that Jesus was saying that He would build His church upon the rock of Peter.
They claim that Peter eventually ended up in Rome at the end of his life, and that a succession of leaders came one after the other, from Peter.
These leaders are called "Popes".† "Pope" means "father".
The Roman Catholic church is the only true church, because to be a true church of Jesus, you must have ties that go back to Peter.
But upon closer examination of the verse, you will find something interesting.
1.† First, it's important to understand the play on words that Jesus is using here.
Peter wasn't born with the name Peter, his parents named him "Simon", which means "reed".
When Jesus met Simon, He gave Simon a new name:
John 1:42-AV And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Cephas is Aramaic for "stone", Peter is the Greek name for the same thing.
In English, Jesus might have called Simon "Rocky".
Jesus might have said something like, "You are Rocky, and upon this rock I will build my church."
2.† If Jesus meant to say that He would build the church upon Peter, then you would expect the word translated "rock" in "upon this rock" to be "petros".
But it isn't.
The Greek word used is "petra".
It's close, but a bit different too.
1) a rock, cliff or ledge† 1a) a projecting rock, crag, rocky ground† 1b) a rock, a large stone
The idea is much larger than just a "petros"
So, Jesus was saying, "You are Peter (a little rock), and upon this large rock I will build my church."
3.† If Jesus was supposedly clearly setting up Peter as head of the church, then why do the disciples ask in just a few chapters,
Matthew 18:1-AV At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
It sure doesn't seem like the disciples took this to mean that Peter was in charge.
In fact, in Acts 15, during the first church council that met to discuss whether or not Gentiles could be saved, the one in charge wasn't Peter, it was James, the brother of Jesus.
So,† Peter was just a small rock compared to a larger rock, what is the larger rock?
Take a step back in this passage and ask yourself, what's the "big thing" that's happening in this passage (vs.13-20).
The big thing is Peter's statement about Jesus, verse 16.
This is the ROCK that Jesus will build His church upon, the truth that He is the Christ, that He is the Son of the living God.
I think that Jesus is "coincidence" of Peter's name, and how appropriate that he is called "rock", when he is the one who comes up with the Big Rock.
Peter is a part of that big rock, but not the whole rock itself.
:16† Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Peter is recognizing that Jesus is:
1.† The Messiah
The one who would deliver Israel, and the world.
2.† The Son of God
He is deity, He is God.
:18† gates of hell
The gates of a city was where the elders of the city would hang out.
Guess who hangs out at the gates of hell?
:19† the keys of the kingdom of heaven
This is where we get the idea of Peter sitting at the gates of heaven, checking people into heaven.
Interesting, but wrong.
The idea is that the door is locked, and to get in, you need to get the guy with the keys.
That's always the frustrating part about being one of the guys with they key.
Right now, there's only a few of us with keys to the YMCA, and when the YMCA is closed, and we need to set up the church, if one of the keys doesn't show up, everybody has to wait to get inside.
It seems to take about an hour to set up, once I showed up 45 minutes before the evening service, boy did I cause a lot of trouble!
Peter is going to be one of the guys with a key to heaven.
What's the key?† The Gospel.
Romans 1:16-AV For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
If you share the gospel to someone who isn't saved, and they accept Jesus into their heart, then you've just unlocked the gates of heaven for them, and given them the key as well!
:19† bind ... loose ...
This verse has caused me some problems.
I thought I had this verse all figured out, until I started digging a little deeper into it.
I had been taught, as after the Pentecostal persuasion, that this was the binding of demons and the loosing of the Holy Spirit.
It is true that they are used in connection with Satan:
Revelation 20:2-AV And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Revelation 20:7-AV And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
But they are just as commonly used of donkeys.
Mark 11:4-AV And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
The Catholic church takes this to mean that Jesus is giving the power to forgive sins to Peter (and the apostolic procession after him).
This is why a good Catholic goes to confession, to be granted forgiveness by the priest.
The more I investigated, I found out that apparently, the terms "binding and loosing", when used together like this were something found very, very commonly ("thousands of times") in the writings of the Rabbis.
RWP:† To "bind" (dÍsÍis) in rabbinical language is to forbid, to "loose" (lusÍis) is to permit. Peter would be like a rabbi who passes on many points. Rabbis of the school of Hillel "loosed" many things that the school of Schammai "bound."
As the Rabbis wrote, they made their comments, telling their readers what was forbidden ("bound") and what was permitted ("loosed").
They gave guidelines as to what people could and couldn't do.
What Jesus was saying was that to Peter (and also later to the others as well), Jesus was giving the ability to teach what was going to be forbidden, and what was going to be permitted in the church.
And whatever they permitted or forbade, would be that way in heaven, simply because they were being led by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would teach them how it was in heaven.
The apostles taught that it was permitted to eat with Gentiles.
They taught that it was forbidden to commit immorality.
This whole concept of permitting and forbidding seems to fit a whole lot better with having the "keys to the kingdom".
Peter (and the others) would have the key to getting into heaven, and be setting up the "do's" and "don'ts" as well.
This is also going to fit much better when we get to Matthew 18
:20† tell no man
For now he suspends their ministry of preaching.†
This is just temporary.
I'm not sure.
Possibly it could be that Jesus knew that there was going to be some tough going up ahead.† There was no need to make things worse by provoking the Scribes and Pharisees and further than they needed to be.
Later He will command them to go into all the world and preach.
Matthew 28:19-20 AV Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:† 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
:21-28† Peter Stumbles
:22† Be it far from Thee
Peter just can't see why Jesus would have to die.
Peter isn't going to let Jesus die.† After all, He's the Messiah, right?
Peter doesn't realize yet that Jesus HAS TO die!
:23† Get thee behind me, Satan
Jesus knew who was really behind these words of Peter.
Peter had just been used tremendously, even inspired by God the Father Himself, in his beautiful confession about Jesus.
Now, the next thing that is recorded as coming from his mouth is provoked from hell itself.
Keep on your guard after those spiritual highs.
I'm not talking about being demon possessed.
If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you cannot become demon-possessed.
2Corinthians 6:16-AV And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
But don't expect to be perfect for the rest of your life either.
1Corinthians 10:12-AV Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
When we have these great times with the Lord, we can kind of get spiritually "smug", feeling like we've really got it together now.
But we always need to stay humble and in touch with the Lord.
We don't need to be telling the Lord what to do.
Look at it!† Peter is telling Jesus what He can and can't do!
I get real concerned when I hear people say things like,
"After this great experience in the Lord, I'll never go back to that old sin again."
The danger is in the "I".† It's not "I" that will keep me from sin, it's Jesus.
:23† the things that be of God
It's God's purpose to save people from their sins, not just deliver them out of a little earthly discomfort under the Romans.
Jesus must go to the cross and bear the penalty of the worlds' sins.
:24† deny ... cross ... follow
As part of Jesus' response to Peter, who has just rebuked Him for talking about His upcoming death, Jesus reminds Peter of how the Christian life is to be led.
It's not about sticking up for your own rights.
It's about denying yourself and following Jesus.
This is nothing new to the disciples, they should have remembered it.
Jesus had already said:
Matthew 10:38-39 AV And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.† 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
:27† shall come in the glory
It's not until Jesus will come again that we can put this dying to self stuff aside.
:28† shall not taste of death, till they see ...
Some have put this verse together with:
John 21:22-23AV Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? follow thou me.† 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee?
And come up with the crazy idea that maybe the apostle John never died, and is living somewhere on the earth at this present time.
I think that this could very possibly be talking about the next paragraph ...
:1-8† The Transfiguration
:2† was transfigured before them
Kind of reminds you of the guy that shows up in Revelation 1!
I think that Peter, James, and John are catching a glimpse of Jesus in the glory of His Father (like 16:28)
:5† a voice out of the cloud ...
:9-13† John and Elijah
:13† spake unto them of John the Baptist
John came "in the spirit of Elijah"
He fulfilled the ministry of Elijah of preparing things for the Lord's coming.
But he wasn't really Elijah, otherwise the guys would have recognized him up on the mountain.
We believe that Elijah himself will come again, before the second coming - see Rev.11
:14-21† The Difficult Demon
:20† Because of your unbelief
I wonder what kinds of things we aren't doing because we don't really believe like we should?
A lack of faith makes us either:
1.† Try something and fail at it.
2.† Not even try, because we know it won't work.
:21† but by prayer and fasting
This particular kind of demon would have required that the disciples have been in prayer and fasting before casting it out.
But because the disciples had not been involved in a lifestyle of prayer and fasting, they weren't ready when the dad brought them his son.
Prayer is something you can do instantly, but not fasting.
You can't be faced with a situation and say to yourself, "OK, I'm now going to fast for twenty seconds before laying my hands on this person!"
We need to learn that there are certain things that should be a part of our daily lives if we want to see God use us as completely as He could.
These aren't things that are going to make you a Christian, but they are things that are going to make you a stronger Christian.
As Greg Laurie was saying on the radio this morning, "They won't make you sinless, but they'll make you sin less".
Jesus just might add:
:22-23† Another forewarning
This is the second time now that Jesus tells His disciples that He's going to be betrayed and killed, and raised from the dead.
It's interesting to note that even though Jesus tells them all three things, they don't remember the part about the resurrection until they actually see Him.
:24-27† How to pay taxes
King James for "anticipated", literally, "to come before"
:25† of whom ...
Do the kings tax their own children, or do they tax their slaves and subject?
Of course their subjects.
:26† are the children free
Jesus is trying to say that they are sons of the kingdom, and shouldn't be taxed.
Now, before you go and throw away your 1040 form ...
:27† lest we should offend them
Jesus, as king of the universe, should have to be paying taxes, yet He doesn't want to cause these people to stumble.
Don't be a stumbling block
There times that it might not seem fair, but to keep another person from stumbling, we have to change our habits.
Romans 14:13-AV Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way.
Some may be able to drink wine with dinner.† But don't do it in front of an alcoholic.† I may be able to watch some things on TV, but if they cause you to stumble when you come over, then I need to not do that.
No, it's called love.
:27† cast an hook
Great!† A fish with the tax money (There are fish in the sea of Galilee that can hold things in their mouth, just like this)
Peter and Jesus have to pay their taxes, and Jesus tells Peter to just go catch a fish, and the money will be in the mouth of the fish.
Is this the new way to pay your taxes as a Christian?
No?† How come it's not that easy for us?
You have to ask yourself a question first, what did Peter do for a living?
He was a fisherman!
And Jesus told him to go fishing.
Pay your bills with your job.
If you are a computer operator, Jesus isn't going to say to you, "Go fishing". He's going to say, "Go operate some computers"